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Textile Brands Team Up with Carbios to Make Their Products More Recyclable

Carbios

Patagonia, Puma, ON and Salomon have teamed up with Carbios to develop processes that will help implement circularity and make their products more recyclable.

The two-year deal will also speed up the introduction of its biorecycling technology, which constitutes what the company says is a breakthrough for the textile industry. Carbios and the four textile companies will also research how products can be recycled, develop solutions to take back worn polyester items – including sorting and dismantling technologies – and gather data on fiber-to-fiber recycling and circularity models.

Carbios’ process uses new technology for the recycling of polyester (PET) fibers, which are widely used in apparel, footwear and sportswear, either on their own or together with other fibers. PET polyester is considered the most important fiber for the textile industry, Carbios says. The biorecycling process uses an enzyme capable of selectively extracting the polyester, recovering it to recreate a virgin fiber. This technology makes it possible to recover the PET polyester present in all textile waste that cannot be recycled using traditional technologies.

The challenge the four brands share is that their ambitious sustainable development goals can only partially be met by conventional recycling technologies, which mostly target bottle-to-fiber recycling. Future regulations will require more circularity in packaging and textile. Yet the market consensus is that there will soon be a shortage of PET bottles, as they will be used for circular production methods in the food and beverage industry.  

PET plastics and fibers are used to make everyday consumer goods such as bottles, packaging and textiles. Today, most PET is produced from fossil resources, then used and discarded according to a wasteful linear model. Carbios’ biorecycling technology creates a circular economy from used plastics and fibers.

Last year, a consortium of top consumer brands unveiled food-grade PET plastic bottles produced entirely from enzymatically recycled plastic created by Carbios. The plastic was created using a process that “supercharges an enzyme naturally occurring in compost heaps that normally breaks down leaf membranes of dead plants.” Participating brands believe the technology will help boost the circular economy. 

Additionally, the Textile Exchange released its Material Change Insights (MCI) Report 2021, with information on how the industry sources its materials. For the first time, half the participants in the MCI are using preferred materials, which the Textile Exchange says are those that have beneficial sustainability impacts compared with conventional uses. More textile brands are seeking to use sustainable and responsibly sourced materials, such as implementing more recycled resources, and a transition to a circularity system could unlock economic and ESG benefits in the industry. 

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